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What to Know About Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Doves fly over the Peace Memorial Park with a view of the gutted A-bomb dome at a ceremony in Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 2010.
Doves fly over the Peace Memorial Park with a view of the gutted A-bomb dome at a ceremony in Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 2010.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Peace Memorial Park: One of the most prominent features of the city; the park encompasses more than 120,000 square meters. Before the blast, the area was the political and commercial heart of the city, one of the reasons it was chosen as a target.

The A-Bomb Dome: One of the few structures left standing after the blast. The ruins of the former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall have been kept in the same state as immediately after the bombing. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

August 6, 1949: The city decides the area would not be redeveloped but instead developed into a peace facility, acting as a symbol of the most destructive force known to man, as well as a sign of hope for world peace. The park was designed by Kenzo Tange, a professor at Tokyo University, and three others.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings

Atomic bombs: The first was dropped August 6, 1945, on Hiroshima, virtually leveling the city. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

Death toll: About 140,000 in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki. About half the deaths in each city occurred on the day of the blasts; burns and radiation sickness claimed many more in the following weeks and months.

Why were Hiroshima and Nagosaki chosen?

The targets had to meet a number of criteria, including:

• High military strategic value -- Hiroshima contained the 2nd Army Headquarters, which commanded the defense of all of southern Japan. Nagasaki, once one of the largest sea ports in southern Japan, was of high military value because its industrial complex produced ordnance, ships and various military equipment.

• Relatively untouched by other bombing runs, so as to gauge the effect of a single atomic bomb.

• Densely built-up area of about 1 mile in radius; the size would compare to the blast, which was calculated to extend over a similar area. Hiroshima had a war-time population of more than 250,000 and Nagasaki's growth was confined by its terrain, leading to a densely built city.

Are Hiroshima, Nagasaki still radioactive? Short answer, no. Unlike the meltdown of Chernobyl's nuclear plant, which left a 30-kilometer area uninhabitable decades later, the atomic bombs released over Hiroshima and Nagasaki exploded hundreds of meters in the air. Only about 10 percent of the nuclear material in the bombs underwent fission; the remaining 90 percent ascended with the fireballs that formed after the explosion, according to the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, a joint U.S.-Japan research group.

Sources:, U.S. Department of Energy, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

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